Melania Mowchan Rogers knows who she is and where she is going.

Born on Jan. 12, 1918, to Cosma and Julia Mowchan of Elmira Heights, New York, Melania was the last of 10 children.

“I was spoiled; I always got everything I wanted.”

Melania loved school, especially memorizing poetry, which she recites spontaneously and often, “To thine own self be true, and it must follow the day the night, thou canst not then be false to any man.”

She earned an AA from Rochester Institute of Technology, a BS in business from Syracuse University and a Master of Education from the University of Missouri. Working as an employment interviewer for James McCreery Department Store, Melania thrived in the bustling energy of New York City.

Once, while on assignment in Houston, Texas, she was set up on a blind date. Airman Lieutenant Tom Rogers walked into the room.

“Too bad he’s not good looking,” she thought.

It was World War II. Rogers, hailing from Little Rock, was smitten. He proposed marriage. Melania declined. “I didn’t want to be encumbered.”

She joined the American Red Cross. “This is my generation’s war and I want to be part of it,” she said.

Working in Paris at 198th General Hospital, Melania took care of American GIs.

“I did anything they wanted. That was my job, my offering.”

After the war Mowchan and Rogers married.

“Why did you marry daddy?” I asked.

“He wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer.”

They moved to Columbia, where she accepted a position on the faculty of Stephens College as Chairman of Fashion Merchandising.

“How did you know how to do that job?” I asked.

“I just stayed one lesson ahead of my students.”

Tom studied agriculture at MU on the GI Bill.

The couple became friends with other Stephens faculty members, playing bridge every week.

“I love bridge. I’m a good bridge player. I’m good at everything I do or I don’t do it.”

Always confident, always a “yes” to life, independent, undaunted, grateful, Melania is just glad she has an opportunity to live.

And she isn’t showing signs of slowing down — at 100 years old today.

Nancy Rogers is Melania’s daughter.

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